Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Book Review - Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

Pinocchio by C. Collodi

I love old books! I love the way they smell and the way they feel. I love the fonts they used and the color the pages have turned. Everything about old books just brings about a sense of assurance for me, that things can last generations and still bring about strong feelings of wonder and fascination. 

Several years ago my husband and I were at an antique store and found an old copy of Pinocchio. The copy we bought was written in 1914. So being a pretty cherry red book with bold black letters, I placed it among other old books and stared at it for a while. About three days ago, after finishing up a very serious book on culture and the degradation of American Christianity, I decided to take a break from the moribund and picked up Pinocchio and read it. I loved it!

Now, I do love the classic Walt Disney animation, but it pales and is outright tame compared to the revelries found in the book!  I mean, Pinocchio squashes the Cricket in the first couple of chapters! The fairy is a shape-shifter. The Cat gets his paw bit off by Pinocchio. Pinocchio is hung, drowned, burned alive, starved, robbed, humiliated, sent to prison, eaten alive, beaten and so much more! All the animals speak in this book and some give good advice while others cajole and lie. The morals in this book scream at you and you just can't believe how naughty Pinocchio is.

This book would be a fantastic book to read aloud to our children. It speaks on the importance of education, honesty and hard work. And it is outright entertaining. There is not a moment when things get a little boring. Not with Pinocchio. The story coaxes the imagination to come alive in a fantasy where the consequences of idleness, dishonesty, and entitlement have "interesting" repercussions.

Obviously this is an older book and older language is used. There is a term that I probably wouldn't use if I were reading it aloud to my kids, especially the older kids. When Pinocchio is taken away to a place where there is no school and only play. That place is referred to the "Land of Boobies". Clearly, it is not speaking of a woman's breasts, but speaking of a "Land of fools". So I would used "the land of sillies" if I read it aloud.

The book is a little morbid. But I think it is to cause a shock to the reader and imprint Pinocchio's consequences into the reader's mind. In the beginning of the book, Pinocchio sits too close to a fire and his feet are burned off. Also when he turns into a donkey, he is bought by a peasant that is going to skin him and turn his hide into a drum. If that wasn't morbid enough, the peasant ties a large rock to his neck and drowns Pinocchio at sea in order to get his skin. While under water Pinocchio the donkey has his flesh eaten up by fish and as the fish keep eating, they only leave behind Pinocchio (the wooden puppet). Also Pinocchio hides 4 golden coins in his mouth and the Cat and Fox try to pry open his mouth to no avail. They then try to kill him by hanging him in hopes that when he is dead, his mouth will open up thus releasing the coins he is hiding. It is apparent in the book that Pinocchio could have prevented all of these things from happening, if he had just obeyed his father or the good advice given by the Fairy. And that "fear" that is generated from these scenes are meant to be remembered and to then to hopefully steer a bad decision into a good decision.

Although a fantasy, the book speaks a lot of truth regarding behavior and work ethic. Pinocchio continually spends a lot of time wishing he would have made a better decision. People he loves die and suffer because of his bad and selfish decisions. Isn't it so in our own real life?

I recommend this book to anyone looking for a break from serious books. I also recommend it to read aloud to older children.

It didn't take long to read and if I hadn't had seen the animation first, I think it would have been even a more exciting read! Disney (understandably)  left out a lot of parts from the book so it was still entertaining. I giggled and was amazed at what predicaments Pinocchio got himself into. In the end, he does learn his lesson, but at a huge cost to himself and those he loved.